BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 4 February, 2002, 06:52 GMT
Dictionary celebrates centenary
Gone with the Wind 1936
The words matinee idol featured in 1902 edition
Matinee idol and manic depressive were among the words that featured in the first edition of a pocket dictionary now celebrating its centenary.

But other words that were included in the Collins Gem dictionary in 1902 such as spike-bozzle and bovrilize have not stood the test of time.

It started with 20,000 words and now includes 35,000

Collins Gem dictionary spokeswoman
The search is now on to find this year's defining word as the dictionary celebrates 100 years in print.

Collins Gem has compiled a list of words considered to define each year since the dictionary was first sold for a penny.

Women's Viagra

Pink Viagra and in silico are among those vying for the title of 2002's defining word.

Last year's word was B4, the abbreviation used in mobile phone text-messaging to mean before.

And dictionary experts claim Teddy Bear was the defining word of 1902.

Some words featured in 1902 edition
Birthday card
manic depressive
glad rags

Collins claims that in silico - computer programming in virtual laboratories - is one of the most used words of 2002 so far.

But Pink Viagra described as Viagra for women, a pill for improving sexual pleasure, may yet be this year's defining word.

A spokeswoman for Collins said it was early days to decide which would be the word of the year.

In 100 years, the pocket dictionary had almost doubled in size.

She said: "It started with 20,000 words and now includes 35,000.

"There is also a word bank of some 450 million words that have been part of the language at one stage or another."

Unfashionable words

While some words have gone out of use or changed their meanings in the past century, others are still in common usage.

And new words are constantly making their entry into the dictionary.

Words that were included in the first edition of the dictionary in 1902 but are no longer commonly used include bovrilize meaning to condense and groceteria meaning a self-service grocery.

Spike-bozzle, meaning to destroy or badly damage an enemy weapon, has also gone out of use since it was first included in the dictionary's first edition.

Words that have changed in meaning since 1902 include nondescript.

It used to mean 'that has not been described' but now means lacking outstanding features.

And where noodle was once the noun used to describe a 'simpleton' it now means long thin strips of pasta.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | UK
Girl power goes mainstream
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Homer and Bart head for Britain
01 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Spicy quotes enter dictionary
14 Jun 01 | Entertainment
It's in the dictionary, d'oh!
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories